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Synthetic drugs are marketed as "bath salts" or "plant food." This product is thought to mimic Ecstasy. Photo: <a href-"http://www.flickr.com/photos/666_is_money/">Raquel Baranow</a>, cc <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en">some rights reserved</a>
Synthetic drugs are marketed as "bath salts" or "plant food." This product is thought to mimic Ecstasy. Photo: Raquel Baranow, cc some rights reserved

Lewis County considers synthetic drug ban

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Like many other local governments in New York, responding to the bizarre behavior of people using the drugs known as "bath salts," Lewis County is considering a ban on many of the compounds used in synthetic drugs. Reporter Joanna Richards spoke to Sheriff Michael Carpinelli about why the ban is needed. Joanna Richards reports.

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Reported by

Joanna Richards
Watertown Correspondent

The ban would outlaw bath salts and synthetic marijuana, sold under the brand names Spice and K2, among others. But Lewis County Sheriff Michael Carpinelli says bath salts are the drugs that have been causing the most worry for law enforcement and health officials, "Basically, what it's gonna do is it's gonna give us a tool, to be able to make an arrest, and we'll go from there, see what the courts decide."

Carpinelli says the effects of bath salts drugs make users difficult to deal with, for both police and health workers. "They get paranoid that people are coming after them, they forget who people are in their families, they forget who their children are," he said. "They commit some horrible acts of violence against some of their family members or to themselves."

Carpinelli says the hospitals and law enforcement in Lewis County see about five cases per week of people using bath salts, plant food, or glass cleaner. One shop in the county used to sell the drugs, but stopped at the request of law enforcement. But people can still buy the drugs outside the county, or online. Carpinelli compared the drugs to PCP, in terms of the volatile behavior they inspire in users. He said, "It's nothing like our more – how do I want to say? – softer drugs that we've had in the past. This is hard stuff, a lot of people don't know what's in it or what it is. And it just seems to bind to the receptors in the brain cells of people much stronger than anything we've seen before.

Carpinelli hopes a county-wide ban will help keep the drugs out of the hands of Lewis County residents.

The Lewis County Legislature will hold a public hearing Tuesday and they will consider the ban in a meeting later that day.

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